The year was 1990 and Air Force Senior Airman E-4 Jason Line, stationed in Alaska, wrote home to his father to let him know what was happening there. Line signed the letter “Future NHRA Stock Eliminator champion/Pro Stock driver.”
A premonition? Or maybe just the dreams of a 21-year old kid who grew up following his family in drag racing? Either way, it all turned out to be true. Once back out of the service, Line scored the 1993 Stock Eliminator championship including three Pro Stock world championships.
Ironically, that letter had fallen behind Lawrence Line’s desk and remained unopened until 2003. “Obviously he didn’t clean his office very often,” laughs his son, “but all I wanted was to win a damn Wally like everyone else. And I think people still want the same thing today.”
Now retiring of sorts from active Pro Stock driving, drag racing is still his life. Between his sportsman efforts along with maintaining his position on the Ken Black Racing team, drag racing has played a big role in his life.
However, from Minnesota farm boy to NHRA world champion, Jason Line still finds himself “back on the farm.”
“My dad had an auto repair shop but we also had beef cattle,” says Line, “just a hobby of sorts for my father. I’ll be honest, I hated them. Couldn’t stand them. Making hay, taking care of them; I didn’t like anything about them.”
And now, when he isn’t helping build horsepower for the KB Racing Pro Stock team, you’ll find Line at home on his farm with his own cows, goats and chickens.
“I guess maybe when you get older, you get dumber,” he laughingly says. “Or maybe you just want to revert back to your youth. I really don’t have any explanations for it. I guess you realize as you get older that the way you grow up was not as bad as you thought. It actually was pretty good and I wanted my kids; Jack and Emma; to have some land and animals, along with having some compassion and responsibilities for a being besides yourself. Those were the things I learned growing up in Wright, Minnesota.”
After his service to our country, Line remained back home in Minnesota working in a paper mill. As time went on, he managed to purchase his own dyno and began his education in that arena in his off-time.
“Not many people at the paper mill knew exactly how much I was into racing,” says Line. “I had known a guy who worked at Joe Gibbs Racing in North Carolina and in somewhat conjunction with the dyno company I had purchased my dyno from, they pushed for me to go to Gibbs. I got a phone call from someone at Joe Gibbs and asked if I would be interested in working there.
“I answered ‘no’ originally,” says Line. “I really had no idea of the scope of NASCAR racing and was pretty much stuck in the drag racing world. The second time he had called, I had a friend I worked with at the paper mill and I told him some guy from Joe Gibbs called and wanted to know if I’d go work there. Well, my friend’s eyes lit up. ‘Are you serious? Yeah.’ But I asked him not to tell anyone because I really wasn’t interested in doing that.
“Well of course, he went and told everybody. Half of them thought I was so full of s**t, the biggest liar they’ve ever seen; and I think the other half cared less. But I honestly think that maybe out of pride, I had to at least arrange a trip to visit just so they wouldn’t think I was totally nuts.
“As soon as I set foot in the door, I realized ‘Wow, this is just another world.’ I was fortunate enough to get hired and it was a great career.”
Always a huge Pro Stock fan, now living in North Carolina, young and with not much else to do, Line would occasionally hang out at Jerico Racing, another Minnesotan transplant. With another Minnesotan Greg Anderson renting space at Jerico when he first moved the Ken Black team to North Carolina, it may have become old home week.
“I didn’t know Greg from my days in Minnesota, but I knew his dad, and there were probably a couple of times we’d spoken,” says Line. “In North Carolina, being single and such, there were a couple of us who hung out at Jerico at night and volunteered our help because we liked the Pro Stock class. One thing led to another and I was hired on. I will say that Ken Black has been almost like a father to me and as long as he’ll have me, I’m more than happy to work for him.”
Hired on originally as a jack of all trades, eventually wheeling one of the team’s cars, Line’s expertise behind the controls of a dyno has helped to accelerate both the team and the class as a whole.
“We used to be pretty proactive in earlier days,” Line says. “You had a lot more latitude with what you could do when it comes to making modifications to go faster. There was lots of room to make whatever changes you wanted. I think as long as you didn’t use nitrous and weren’t bigger than 500-cubic inches, it left you with a pretty open field to go fast. Today, we’ve got engine rpm limits along with other rules regulating things we have to abide by. I almost think there is more latitude with a Super Stock or Comp engine than there is in Pro Stock.”
With only one goal in mind, to dominate the Pro Stock class and help it advance, KB Racing has certainly been extremely successful. Countless championships and race wins by not only Line, but also Anderson, Bo Butner and recently Matt Hartford; drives home facts of that statement. Rookie Pro Stock driver Kyle Koretsky has also shown a lot of promise coming out of the KB camp.
Only recently did outside engine work begin to cross through the doors of KB Racing, located conveniently within earshot of Mooresville Dragway, a place at one time where they would do a lot of testing. But the original objectives of winning Pro Stock races and championships is still very much alive and well at KB Racing.
A very private person, Line does understand that it’s hard to be a private person in the almost tiny world drag racers live in. “I know that everyone races for a different reason,” he says. “Me? I didn’t race for fame and glory, so to speak. Just win one Wally, that’s all. I’ve just been lucky to have accomplished more. Racing has been my whole life and it certainly has been good to me. Yeah, there are certainly troubles and I could complain about them but I don’t want to say anything bad because it has been a great life and somehow, I’ve morphed it into a good living along the way.”
When Line isn’t spinning wrenches or turning dyno dials at KB Racing, he can be found at his home shop modifying carburetors for sportsman entries. Still a sportsman racer at heart, Line seems to enjoy the fact of making something which was never designed to go fast, go even faster than thought possible. “Sportsman racers are a very appreciative group and I enjoy working with them,” he says. “I believe the importance of the sportsman racers is way bigger than possibly the sanctioning body realizes.”
Even when the troubles of drag racing seem to rear their ugly head, Jason Line is still content to pull in his driveway, enjoy his family; wife Cindy and kids; and maybe even get a good laugh at some of his fainting goats; yes, goats which fall over and faint when alarmed (it’s true, look it up).